Dense and Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Icing

Help! I’m drowning in zucchinis! That’s pretty much how I feel almost every day when I go outside to check on my garden and wind up bringing anywhere from 1-4 zucchinis into my house. Not that I’m complaining. I haven’t had to throw any out. Zucchinis are pretty versatile anyway. You make a veggie side dish out of them, add them to casseroles or pasta sauce, or add them to your baked goods in shredded form. That’s what I did when I made this Dense and Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Icing. If you’ve never made zucchini cake before – chocolate or otherwise – you need to. Now. Since zucchini is pretty flavorless, you won’t know it’s there, but it does a great job of adding moisture to the cake. And what dietitian doesn’t love hiding vegetables in her baked goods?

Grated zucchini

Your first step will be to grate up a medium-large zucchini on a regular old cheese grater, then squeeze out all the extra water in a clean dish towel. You should end up with about 3 cups of grated zucchini after you’re done.


Then start mixing up the batter: the dry ingredients get mixed up first, then added to the wet ingredients in a stand mixer. Then the zucchini, and the chocolate chips get stirred in.

Baked zucchini cake

This cake takes awhile to bake – about 30-40 minutes. But you’ve got more work to do while it’s baking – the icing!

Browned butter cream cheese icing

The icing is totally optional of course, and it does add extra calories. But it’s pretty much the best thing ever, so you won’t want to skip it. It’s just like regular cream cheese icing, which I absolutely LOVE on chocolate cake – but part of it’s butter is browned for extra flavor. This time, I had to use half cream cheese and half goat cheese since I ran out of cream cheese. I couldn’t taste a difference. I wonder what it would taste like with ALL goat cheese?

Frosted chocolate zucchini cake

Make sure you wait until the cake is completely cool before you ice it, or you will end up with a melty, runny mess.

Chocolate zucchini cake

Serve the cake as a dessert, or a not-so-healthy snack anytime of the day. You could even make the cake batter into 12 muffins to keep around in the freezer so you can grab a chocolaty treat anytime.

chocolate zuccini cake 3

Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Icing
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
This cake is a great way to use up summer's never ending zucchinis. The cake is dense and chocolaty - you'll never even know the zucchini is in there!
Course: Dessert
Servings: 9
Author: Domestic Dreamboat
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed dry (about 3 cups grated, before squeezing)
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 4 ounces cream cheese or goat cheese or a mixture - not reduced fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 cups icing sugar (see note)
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x9" baking pan lightly with canola oil and sprinkle flour in, discarding any excess.
  2. Toss chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp of the all purpose flour in a small bowl. Set aside. Whisk remaining all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract together in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes until smooth and pale. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and beat for another 2 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula.
  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool on a wire rack completely before icing.
  1. Place 2 Tbsp of the butter in a small skillet or saucepan over medium low heat. Cook until butter is lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Place butter (both browned and softened) and cream cheese into a small bowl. Cream together with and hand mixer on low speed. Add vanilla and icing sugar. Beat on medium high for 3-5 minutes. Add more icing sugar as needed to reach desired stiffness. Use immediately or store in fridge until ready to use.
Recipe Notes

I used about 1-1 1/4 cups icing sugar for this cake. I was going for a thinner consistency, more like a glaze. If you're looking for a stiffer icing (for cupcakes or a layer cake), you will need more icing sugar.
If you're using this icing for a layer cake, you will need to double the recipe.

If you want to make a Chocolate Zucchini Loaf, follow this recipe but bake in a greased 9x5" loaf pan. Add 5-10 minutes onto the baking time.


Nutrition infomation for 1/9 of cake, without icing

Nutrition infomation for 1/9 of cake, without icing

Browned butter cream cheese icing nutrition info

Nutrition information for 1/9 recipe of browned butter cream cheese icing


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    Paulina Piskorz
    September 5, 2014 at 3:06 AM

    Thanks for sharing the recipe:) The cake really looks delicious. But I have one technical question to you: here http://www.listonic.com/protips/get/rkpzobnqhz I’ve read that in dark cakes you can use black beans instead of flour. Do you think it would apply to your recipe as well?
    Thanks in advance!

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      September 5, 2014 at 7:50 AM

      I’ve never tried it in a cake, so I can’t say for sure. I have made black bean brownies though, which were very good. I would think that in a cake, it might be a little more dense than with flour. Since this cake is already on the dense side, it might not be as noticeable.

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